Netflix’s small screen adaptation of Jay Asher’s hit YA book 13 Reasons Why is gearing up for a second season. Season one, which followed the life of character Hannah Baker and the events that led up to her eventual suicide, earned Netflix rave reviews for tackling such sensitive subject matter, and almost as quickly earned it widespread critiques by those who felt the show was glamorizing suicide. Concerned parents and authority figures feared the show would serve less as a means to facilitate difficult conversations between kids and their parents, and more a way of encouraging harmful behavior.
The show, which became hugely popular, follows Harrah Baker as she chronicles the tragic series of events that led up to her deciding to end her life through a set of mixed tapes. Each person that Baker deems responsible in one way or another for her life-ending decision has their own tape, and once they’ve listened to it to fully understand the impact of their actions, they are to pass the tapes on to the next person on the list.
Amidst the critiques and backlash of season one, Netflix decided to proactively investigate the real impact this powerful series had on both the kids who were watching and their parents who feared it might be harmful. “From the beginning, because the series broaches uncomfortable topics, we believed it had the potential to be a powerful agent for change,” the streaming giant wrote on their blog. Netflix then revealed that it “commissioned a global research study with Northwestern University’s Center on Media and Human Development,” to study the impact the series had on both parents and kids. Today Netflix released the results of that study that prove the show actually encouraged many kids to speak up and help others.
The study concluded that 71% of teens and young adults found 13 Reasons Why and the issues it tackles, which range from bullying to sexual assault to peer pressure and suicide, to be relatable. It also stated that 75% of those teens and young adults said the show helped them with how to process tough issues. While many worried about the negative effect the show would have on teens and young adults, the study found that approximately 50% reached out to someone and apologize for past behavior after watching, while almost 75% said they were trying to be more considerate of others and how they treated them. Netflix’s study also addressed the concerns many parents had about the show and how it would deal with it going forward.
Ahead of season two, Netflix will have cast member speak out of character in custom intros as they introduce each episode. More resources will also be added to their informational site, 13reasonswhy.info. “The hope is that the steps we’re taking now will help support more meaningful conversations as Season 2 rolls out later this year,” Brian Wright, VP of Orignal Series for Netflix wrote in the blog post. “We’ve seen in our research that teens took positive action after watching the series, and now – more than ever – we are seeing the power and compassion of this generation advocating on behalf of themselves and their peers.”
In addition to announcing the study results and the steps they’re taking to ensure those watching have the resources available to them to get help if needed, Netflix also released a video titled “Tell Them”, which shows how two viewers were both inspired by the show to come forward with their own stories. Have a look, below:
13 Reasons Why ignited a firestorm of reaction, both positive and negative after it was first released, resulting in boycotts and schools across the nation sending out warning letters home to concerned parents. This series can provide the perfect opportunity for parents to open a real world dialogue with their teens about issues that are relevant to their lives. In the current social media obsessed world, a show which painfully paints the real life drama that our teens are dealing with should be celebrated for bringing awareness of these very real issues, instead of being torn down. While there are many questions that still remain about what season 2 will look like, especially since season one narrator Hannah Baker is dead, hopefully Netflix’s actions will ease the minds of worried parents.